Galloways make their mark on Alberta

EDMONTON — When Brian Robertson left his home in southern Ontario, he knew he wanted to bring Galloway cattle to Alberta.

It was a good decision because his black Galloways won grand champion bull and reserve champion female at the Farmfair International All Other Breeds show held Nov. 6 in Edmonton. This show allows breeds with smaller numbers to exhibit and compete.

Robertson West Livestock is based at Caroline, Alta., where Brian and his wife, Trisha, have 60 Galloway and 30 Angus pedigreed cattle. They have been at their location for five years after searching across Western Canada for a farm.

Brian works off the farm for a dairy service and supply company while Trish works as an environmental co-ordinator for Alberta Transportation. They want cattle that are self-sufficient and quiet while they are away. Originally from near Barrie, Ont., Brian’s family has raised Galloways for several generations. Their main customers are other purebred breeders, most of them in in Ontario and the United States.

Galloway are mainly black but red or dun coloured cattle may appear. They have luxuriant hair coats.

“They are known for their hair coat but we select ours so they hair up in winter but shed in the summertime,” he said.

“Some Galloways have a lot of hair year round but from a marketing standpoint that doesn’t work,” he said. Feedlots don’t want cattle with long hair because too much mud and manure take hold. When they are crossed with other breeds, the hair coat is slicker.

The family uses artificial insemination and synchronizes females for a tighter calving period. The Galloway gene pool is not as large as more common breeds so it is more challenging to find outcross genetics.

Robertson’s winning bull calf named RWL Grizzly 11G was an AI calf whose genetics trace back to a bull owned by former Alberta breeder Russell Horvey.

Most of his customers are other purebred breeders but he wants to establish a commercial female market. He has crossed cattle with Simmental-Angus bulls and believes the resulting females have a lot to offer with docility and good meat quality.

“We have to produce more commercial females so people can see what they can do,” he said.

According to the Canadian Galloway Association they are a naturally polled breed and trace back to Galloway, Scotland. The first cattle arrived in Ontario in 1853 and the first purebred registrations were in 1872.

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